Owens calls for Welsh response

Date published: March 14 2016

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Wales hooker Ken Owens has urged his team-mates to restore their pride when they face Italy in their final Six Nations clash at the weekend.

After a poor first half performance, in their 25-21 defeat to England at Twickenham on Saturday, Warren Gatland’s men played with more intent in the latter stages of the second half, fighting back from a 25-7 deficit to close the gap with two late tries.

“I am not sure what happened in the first hour, but they possibly won the battle of the gain-line offensively and defensively, which is where the game is won and lost these days,” said Owens who came off the bench at Twickenham.

“I can’t put my finger on it, and it was very uncharacteristic of us. We missed 19 tackles. Our defence is our go-to when we are under pressure, and we build our game from that.

“It is not like us to miss 19 tackles in the first-half. We only missed 19 tackles in the whole (2015) World Cup. We had an off-day, and good teams like England punish you.”

Owens was adament that his side will work hard this week to make sure they emulate their second half performance and play a full 80-minute game when they face Italy at the Millennium Stadium this weekend.

“We have to turn up next week and play Italy and put some pride back in the shirt. We will work hard as a squad like we always do, and finish this championship on a high,” he added.

“The good thing about this group is that we are honest. We will learn from this. I won’t have any bones about being told what I did wrong.

“We need to be a lot better defensively next week, because Italy have some real threats out wide.

“We want to put on a real show next week. We have a point to prove. That is something we will take on board, and if there is pressure from outside and from the coaches, then we will react to that.”

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